N.Y. Times columnist Frank Rich has written a tasty retro-bashing of Mel Gibson‘s The Passion of the Christ in today’s edition, “The movie was nakedly anti-Semitic, to the extreme that the Temple priests were all hook-nosed Shylocks and Fagins with rotten teeth,” he states. “It was also ludicrously violent — a homoerotic ‘exercise in lurid sadomasochism,’ as Christopher Hitchens described it then, for audiences who ‘like seeing handsome young men stripped and flayed alive over a long period of time.’

“Nonetheless, many of the same American pastors who routinely inveighed against show-business indecency granted special dispensation to their young congregants to attend this R-rated fleshfest.

“It seems preposterous in retrospect that a film as bigoted and noxious as The Passion had so many reverent defenders in high places in 2004. Once Gibson, or at least the subconscious Gibson, baldly advertised his anti-Semitism with his obscene tirade during a 2006 D.U.I. incident in Malibu, his old defenders had no choice but to peel off.”